What would you do for free accommodation? The truth behind the men preying on vulnerable women.

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After watching the new Jeremy Kyle programme on Monday evening, I decided to have a look at whether we have the same sort of problem here in Scotland.

In the new programme from Jeremy Kyle which first aired on Monday called The Kyle Files, Kyle will be investigating high-profile issues which impact on people’s lives across Britain today from knife crime to legal highs and from plastic surgery to underage drinking and gang culture.

An issue which came to light in the first episode was men offering free accommodation to women in return for sexual favours.

Kyle said that there had been email exchanges between one of his colleagues who is in her twenties and a middle-aged man where he said she could rent a room for free providing she agreed to his demands of a sexual nature.

The man, who features in the episode and appears to ignore Kyle’s questions, uses the website Craigslist to advertise his rooms for rent and to explain what will be expected in exchange.

I find it deeply saddening that this sort of advert isn’t having to meet some sort of community guidelines in order to be displayed on the site.

Young women, for all sorts of reasons, can find themselves alone and vulnerable and in need of somewhere to sleep or a roof over their head. These sorts of rooms may appeal to women who have come through drug addiction or alcohol abuse who are in dire need of a safe place to rest their head.

These adverts and the men responsible are NOT safe and we need to ask Craiglist why there isn’t a way to report adverts of this nature.

When I started digging, it didn’t take me long to uncover a few of these adverts in Glasgow. One was for a ‘free room with en-suite’ in the Hillhead area of the city for a ‘female who’s willing to earn it’.

He asked that prospective candidates email what they’d be willing to do in exchange for the free room.

I exposed the advert on my Facebook page The Empowered Woman Project to see what people thought about it and one follower names Charlotte said, “Back when I was 18, I saw something similar advertised on a house sharing site. I was very desperately in need of accommodation at the time and nearly contacted the person with the listing but ended up listening to my gut instead and not bothering.”

What this means is that we are dealing with a very real issue where women are perhaps willing to compromise on consent and what makes them feel safe in exchange for simply a safe place to live.

What we need to ask is why do sites like Craigslist not have a way of reporting these potentially damaging adverts and how can we clamp down on this type of predatory behaviour?

If you’ve found yourself considering responding to an advert of this kind, we’d be keen to hear from you

Mandy @ TEWP x

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